ST 3157 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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ST 3157

Sunday Telegraph Cryptic No 3157

A full review by Rahmat Ali

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This puzzle was published on 24th Apr 2022

BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment ****

Greetings from Kolkata. The month of Ramadan is now over. I fasted for the whole month as usual. For some fasters, it was a tough time last week here in West Bengal as the temperature soared to above 111°F. We celebrated Eid al-Fitr yesterday, a day later than the two kingdoms (Saudi Arabia and United), as that depended on the sighting of the moon. However, I am still unaware of the name of the place on earth where the new moon could ever be sighted first than the rest of the world! Anyway, to all Eid Mubarak. Dada has given us a challenging yet an enjoyable puzzle and I have the pleasure of presenting to you once again a full review of the same and would be delighted to have your precious feedback for my encouragement and improvement.

A sneeze is an involuntary explosion, something a person cannot bottle up and the most common traditional phrase used by the theists to wish good health to a person who has just sneezed is “Bless you!”, the answer to the clue of 12a or “God bless you”. And what about other instances of bodily expulsion of air like burp, cough, fart etc? Being inquisitive, but not having any idea of the same, I turned to the net to have my answers, but to my utter despair, I found none as, in fact, there is no universal response to other instances of bodily expulsion of air, be it burp or cough or fart. But yet around the world there are similar sneeze responses. Typically, these emerge in one of two forms: either an invocation of God or a reference to one’s health. Dozens of explanations don the net as to why so many cultures offer an instinctive response for a sneeze. A story goes that around 750 AD, Pope Gregory I believed that a sneeze was an early sign of contraction of the bubonic plague. Saying “God bless you” was a sort of deathbed prayer, may God see your worth and help you, because you’re definitely about to die. This also ties in with the “to your health” variations; it’s all based on noting the very bad omen that is a sneeze and trying to avoid it. In A Dictionary of Superstitions, a wonderful compendium of all things spooky, authors Iona Opie and Moira Tatem find the earliest mentions in Pliny’s Natural History, circa 77. That excerpt: “Why is it that we salute a person when he sneezes, an observation which Tiberius Caesar, they say, the most unsociable of men, as we all know, used to exact, when riding in his chariot even?” The ever-wise Pliny was unsure why sneezing deserved any kind of special interaction, and the fact that he’s even wondering that this tradition was well-established by the time of his writing. In Xenophon’s Anabasis, an adventure narrative composed around 370 BC, we have a very important sneeze. Brice C. Jones, the ancient Greece expert found the quote: “As he was saying that this, a man sneezed, and when the soldiers heard it, they all with one impulse made obeisance to the god.” Jones sees this as an example of the Greek belief that the gods were responsible for all things in Europe, but especially those things which could not be controlled by humans. One of the stranger responses is the second-most-popular in the United States: the German word Gesundheit, which translates to “health”. This word appears to have gained steam as a sneeze response in the late 19th century. In Arab-speaking Muslim countries, there are a few variations, some initiated by the sneezer and some not, but usually follow a pattern of “Praise to Allah” and “May Allah have mercy on you”. In most of Eastern Europe, the response is a reference to health or long life. Sneezing unites the world; no matter who we are or where we live, foreign particles are likely to irritate our inner nasal membrane at some point, causing a sudden, involuntary and audible explosion of air.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought.

Across

7a Long snakes crushed by serpent somewhere in Italy (7)
BOLOGNA: An anagram (snakes) of LONG forced inwards (crushed) by BOA (serpent) as a type of snake that kills its prey by squeezing, leading to the definition of the capital and largest city of the Emilia-Romagna region in Northern Italy

8a Fitness system good, least bad (7)
PILATES: PI (good) as obtrusively religious or sanctimonious and an anagram (bad) of LEAST take to the definition of a system of exercises using special apparatus, designed to improve physical strength, flexibility and posture and enhance mental awareness

10a Rising cycle (10)
REVOLUTION: Double definition; the first being a noun meaning a radical and pervasive change in society and the social structure, especially one made suddenly and often accompanied by violence and the second also a noun referring to a cycle of phenomena or of time

11a Turn-off, film featuring cricket team (4)
EXIT: ET (film) simply known for the science fiction movie E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial having inside (featuring) XI (cricket team) as the Roman numeral for eleven denoting a sports team of eleven players as in cricket, coming to the definition of a place for traffic to leave a major road or roundabout

12a An acknowledgement of minor explosion? (5,3)
BLESS YOU: The definition of a traditional phrase or an exclamation said to a person who has just sneezed is cryptically arrived at from a response (an acknowledgement) “Bless you” serving as an acknowledgement of a sudden, involuntary and audible expiration through the nose and mouth (minor explosion) made by a person spoken to

14a Conservative figure (6)
SQUARE: Double definition; the first being a noun meaning a person who is considered to be old-fashioned or boringly conventional in attitude or behaviour and the second also a noun referring to a plane figure with four equal straight sides and four right angles

15a Painful, removal of hair? (11)
DISTRESSING: A cryptic way of arriving at the definition of an adjective meaning causing anxiety, sorrow or pain from DIS- (removal) as separation or removal of something and TRESSING (of hair) as particularly of a woman’s hair that has been braided or knotted or arranged into long locks

19a Old person irons tattered trousers expertly, initially (6)
SENIOR: An anagram (tattered) of IRONS pockets or takes in (trousers) E as the beginning or initial letter (initially) of E[XPERTLY], leading to the definition of an elderly person, especially an old-age pensioner

20a Lesson sorted out in test (8)
TUTORIAL: An anagram (sorted) of OUT is placed inside (in) TRIAL (test) as a test of the performance, qualities or suitability of someone or something, taking to the definition of a period of tuition given by a university or college tutor to an individual or very small group

22a Phosphorus, funny medicine (4)
PILL: A charade of P (phosphorus) as the symbol of chemical element phosphorus and ILL (funny) as an informal term meaning slightly but undefinably unwell guides to the definition of a small round mass of solid medicine for swallowing whole

23a Break, then pull on plant (10)
SNAPDRAGON: SNAP (break) as break suddenly and completely, typically with a sharp cracking sound is followed by (then) DRAG (pull) as pull someone or something along forcefully, roughly or with difficulty and ON from the clue in a charade, arriving at the definition of a garden plant with white, yellow, pink or red flowers whose petals are staged like a pair of lips that open when they are pressed

25a Eat amount gobbled by solid figure (7)
CONSUME: SUM (amount) as a particular amount of money eaten or taken in (gobbled) as eaten something hurriedly and noisily by taking inside CONE (solid figure) as a solid or hollow object which tapers from a circular or roughly circular base to the point, taking to the definition of a verb meaning to eat or devour something

26a Electronic images bound to fill shopping trolley (4,3)
CLIP ART: LIP (bound) as the edge or boundary of a hollow container or an opening to have in (fill) CART (shopping trolley) as a large wire basket on wheels provided for carrying shopping by supermarket customers, leading to the definition of ready-made pieces of printed or computerised graphic art, such as illustrations, borders and backgrounds, that can be electronically copied and used to decorate a document

Down

1d Extra large, large round cherry (7)
MORELLO: A charade of MORE (extra) as a greater or additional amount of degree of something, L (large) and L (large) as each standing for large as one of the various sizes of shirt or other clothing and O (round) as anything round or nearly so takes to the definition of a dark-red cherry, much used for cooking and for cherry brandy

2d Very, very fair (2-2)
SO-SO: A charade of SO (very) and SO (very) as each an adjective meaning in a high degree or extremely leads to the definition of an adjective meaning neither very good nor very bad

3d Popular group of twelve hurt (6)
INJURY: A charade of IN (popular) as characteristic of, influenced by or representing a current, popular style and JURY (group of twelve) as a body of people, typically twelve in number, sworn to give a verdict in a legal case on the basis of evidence submitted to them in court guides to the definition of a noun meaning hurt, damage or loss sustained

4d Synod is excited, having welcomed universal god (8)
DIONYSUS: SYNOD IS is anagrammed (excited), having taken in (welcomed) U (universal) as the abbreviated universal as a certification for motion pictures allowing people of all age to view, arriving at the definition of the ancient Greek god of the grape-harvest, winemaking, fertility, orchards and fruits, vegetation, festivity, theatre, ritual madness and religious ecstasy

5d Contact artist in fascinating book (4-6)
PAGE-TURNER: A charade of PAGE (contact) as to contact someone by means of a paper and Joseph Mallord William TURNER (artist) as the English Romantic painter, printmaker and watercolourist takes to the definition of a gritting, exciting or unputdownable book

6d Wickedness in tedious mischief (7)
DEVILRY: EVIL (wickedness) as profound immorality and wickedness is placed inside (in) DRY (tedious) as wearisome or uninteresting, giving rise to the definition of a noun meaning reckless mischief

9d Meaty serving, microscopic share for the auditor? (6,5)
MINUTE STEAK: MINUTE (microscopic) as extremely small and STAKE (share) as a share or interest in a business, situation or system heard as a homophone by the audience (for the auditor), arriving at the definition of a small, thin piece of steak which can be cooked quickly

13d Flat not in need of exorcism? (10)
SPIRITLESS: A cryptic way of referring to the absence of a supposed evil spirit in a person or place that does not require to be driven out or warrant any exorcism (not in need of exorcism) that leads to the definition of an adjective meaning lacking courage, vigour or vivacity

16d Rome: site designed for pedestrian (8)
TIRESOME: An anagram (designed) of ROME SITE guides to the definition of an adjective meaning lacking in interest, curiosity or excitement as to cause mental weariness

17d Semi-precious stone, one stored in unusual red pot (7)
PERIDOT: I (one) as the Roman numeral for one retained (stored) in an anagram (unusual) of RED POT, leading to the definition of a green transparent variety of olivine, used as a gem

18d Boy entertained by biblical character building craft (7)
MASONRY: SON (boy) as a boy in relation to either or both of his parents taken in (entertained) by MARY (biblical character) as in the Bible the Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus, arriving at the definition of the art and craft of building and fabricating in stone, clay, brick or concrete block

21d Tipsy baby (6)
TIDDLY: Double definition; the first being a slang adjective meaning slightly drunk and the second a colloquial adjective denoting comparatively small or immature of its kind

24d Range and location probably sensed, first of all (4)
ALPS: The definition of a large mounting range in Europe, stretching from Austria and Slovenia in the east, through Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Liechtenstein, to France in the west is arrived at from the initial or first letter each (first of all) of A[ND] L[OCATION] P[ROBABLY] S[ENSED]

Some of the clues that I liked in this puzzle were 7a, 8a, 12a, 15a, 19a, 1d, 5d, 6d, 9d, 13d, 18d and 21d; the topper being 12a. Thanks as usual to Dada for the entertainment and to BD for the encouragement. Looking forward to being here again. Have a nice day.


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